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    Hail and Farewell, Mighty 103rd!



    Story by Spc. Kenda Miller 

    103rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary)

    Story by Spc. Christine Bernat and Spc. Kenda Miller

    DES MOINES, Iowa -- The families of the 103rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command bid farewell to the nearly 300 Soldiers ready for deployment during a departure ceremony held Sunday, April 25, at Lincoln High School here.

    Soldiers of the 103rd ESC, an Army Logistics Headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa, are the primary planners of support for Army units which includes the acquisition, storage, and movement of repair parts, food, oil and fuel, water, and other general supplies required to sustain ongoing operations.

    The Soldiers were seen off to Iraq with a few words from distinguished visitors including Iowa Congressmen, Sen. Tom Harkin and Rep. Leonard Boswell, as well as Gov. Chet Culver, and the City of Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie. Maj. Gen. Paul Crandall, Commander of the 416th Theater Engineer Command, the 103rd ESC's higher headquarters, attended and gave a few words of encouragement to the troops. The ceremony also included a live performance from the 312th Army Band from Lawrence, Kans., and support from the Patriot Guard Riders of Iowa.

    Harkin acknowledged Soldiers and their Families' sacrifices, saying "I hardly need to remind this audience that this is a new era for the Reserve and for the National Guard. You are shouldering a huge share of the combat and support burden in Iraq and Afghanistan. We are making truly extraordinary demands on you and your spouses, families, and employers. "

    This is the 103rd's first deployment as an Expeditionary Sustainment Command. Their mission in Iraq is to reduce the footprint of the U.S. military presence in Iraq by providing logistical support and assistance with the responsible draw-down of equipment while simultaneously sustaining troops in theater. More than half of the Soldiers currently assigned to the 103rd have been deployed previously to Iraq or Afghanistan with different units in support other missions.

    Sgt. Gregory Ruske, of Colorado Springs, Colo., said he feels confident and prepared for this deployment. This is his second deployment, the first was to Afghanistan. "Patriotism, that's why I do this; I'm just serving my country." Ruske is a decorated veteran of 11 years and the recipient of a Silver Star and two Purple Hearts.

    With such a large amount of experience and knowledge among the previously deployed Soldiers, the younger and less experienced Soldiers have many mentors available to provide advice and useful information on what to expect during the deployment.

    Sgt. 1st Class Daniel H. Cordell, Senior Intelligence Sergeant for the 103rd ESC, and a Cordova, Ala., native, has a wealth of experience. He said this is his 5th deployment, three were in the Middle East and one was in Bosnia. "I take the younger Soldiers under my wing and let them know there's nothing to be worried about." Cordell said.

    Managing almost 75 Army Reserve units as well as having command and control of over 6,000 Soldiers throughout the Midwestern United States, the 103rd ESC currently has approximately 375 Reserve Soldiers already deployed from the Iowa area alone. With the deployment of these additional 300 Soldiers and the projected deployment of nearly 3,000 more Iowa National Guard troops, Iowa will represent a significant amount of the forces supporting overseas contingency operations.

    Staff Sgt. Shayla Scott and her husband Spc. Matthew Scott are deploying together with the 103rd ESC in support of the mission. Shayla Scott has served three and a half years in the Army Reserve and is on her second deployment while her husband, who is mobilizing his first time, has served for a year and a half. The couple met during her first deployment while she was on leave.

    "My husband and I are very grateful to be able to see each other every day out there. We're fortunate unlike many others who are going to be separated from their Families." Shayla said.

    Many Families said goodbye to a son or daughter, wife or husband. One Family in particular said goodbye to both of their children. Spc. Melissa Johnson, native to Slater, Iowa, and her brother, Spc. Travis Arterburn, native to Fontelle, Iowa, will be heading to Iraq together in support of the 103rd ESC's mission.

    "There was a sense of pride seeing them both join, but now that they're both leaving my feelings are mixed. It leaves you with a little bit of a quandary about whether they are going to be okay," said Craig Arterburn, father to the brother and sister duo.

    Melissa Johnson said it is likely that she will serve on the same base as her brother. "I am happy to go over there with my brother, I will have a lot of family support there, and I have a lot of family support at home," she said.

    Toward the end of the ceremony Brig. Gen. Mark Corson, Commander of the 103rd ESC, shared his feelings with the Family and friends of the Soldiers, comforting and thanking them for the sacrifices they make every day to support their Soldiers and their country.

    "We are Family, no Soldier stands alone. We stand shoulder to shoulder; by God we are Family. I swear to you today that we will take care of your loved ones to the very best of our ability." said Corson.

    After the ceremony concluded, a reception was held at the Fort Des Moines Museum for the Soldiers and their loved ones.



    Date Taken: 04.25.2010
    Date Posted: 05.07.2010 12:24
    Story ID: 49286
    Location: DES MOINES, HI, US

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